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Letters to the editor

January 14, 2005 | Page 4

OTHER LETTERS BELOW:
Who can the left look to?
Fired for speaking out
Hold Pinochet responsible
Why not vote for a socialist?

Governator slams teachers

Dear Socialist Worker,
As a teacher in an "underperforming" California school, I am outraged by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's "State of the State" speech. Schwarzenegger proposes to cut $2.2 billion from education and plans on linking teachers' pay to merit, not to years of experience, while blaming teachers and other workers for the state's financial crisis.

Really? Hey Arnold, what about the energy companies that blackmailed the state and then robbed state coffers of billions? What about the wealthy property owners who pay some of the lowest taxes in the country? Or companies like Microsoft and Oracle, who pay nothing in state taxes while growing rich off the workforce we educated?

Nope. Schwarzenegger instead targets the very people who have been on the front lines of holding together the crumbling infrastructure of public schools after decades of budget cuts. Merit pay is just a shameless excuse to cut our meager salaries and will mean that some of the best, most experienced teachers in our district will have to leave the very schools that need them the most.

Schwarzenegger is systematically dismantling public education, and he knows it. Arnold left movies an action hero, only to become a stock serial villain in real life.
Andrew Libson, United Educators of San Francisco, San Francisco

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Who can the left look to?

Dear Socialist Worker,
The Madison Capital Times is calling Sen. Barak Obama (D-Ill.) their "Person of the Year." This makes more sense than Time magazine's selection of George W. Bush, but Obama still doesn't qualify in my book.

The story used to promote him sounds impressive (son of a goat herder makes good), but his recent record shows him to be a supporter of U.S. empire and yet another pro-corporate, Democratic National Committee team player who is unlikely to rock the boat. He's hawkish on Iran, opposes withdrawing troops from Iraq and supports "free trade" deals. If this is the "best of the future" that is possible, then we are all doomed.

If any politician deserves to be named "Person of the Year," it is Ralph Nader. He was the one national candidate in 2004 who unwaveringly stood for peace, justice and the public interest--even under the most hostile and spiteful conditions.

John Kerry and the Democrats showed us (yet again) that abandoning principle and fighting for least worse candidate is a failing strategy. Ralph showed us a course that can win, if only people on the left had the courage to fight for it. If we keep following compromisers, hypocrites and corporate tools like Kerry and Obama, the only victories we win will be hollow.
Nicholas Hart, Seattle

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Fired for speaking out

Dear Socialist Worker,
Before becoming a socialist, I was a reporter for The Diamondback, a newspaper at the University of Maryland. About a month ago, I was fired for openly portraying anti-Bush and antiwar views.

I was never told that I wasn't allowed to reveal my opinions by my employers. It is The Diamondback's policy to not hire reporters with opinions, and I just think that's wrong.

I knew I was crossing some of their lines by sending e-mails to a group called Peace Forum, expressing my views and addressing their concerns on some of my articles. But I never fabricated a story or wrote in a way that would display the views of one side over the opposing.

Now, a conservative newspaper called The Terrapin Times is besmirching my name. The editor-in-chief of The Terrapin Times was actually the one who stole my e-mails and used them as evidence of my "liberal" activities. His reporting was flawed and unfair; my side was not represented.

I ask you to support me. I believe all journalists have the right to speak out against something as manifestly evil as this war.
Matt Johnson, College Park, Md.

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Hold Pinochet responsible

Dear Socialist Worker,
Kudos to Chilean judge Juan Guzman for finally indicting former dictator Augusto Pinochet for murder. After many years during which this tyrant has gone scot-free for his crimes, perhaps he will finally get what he deserves.

There are, however, two problems with this indictment. Firstly, Pinochet is only being charged with one killing and nine kidnappings, whereas it is a well-established fact that his regime murdered thousands of innocent people. Secondly, the indictment should also name the U.S. government as a defendant, since Pinochet's 1973 coup was carried out with assistance from the CIA.

In an American court of law, if you help a murderer, you're guilty by association. The same principle ought to apply as the truth about what happened in 1973 is made known.
Bruce Burleson, Roxbury, Mass.

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Why not vote for a socialist?

Dear Socialist Worker,
In reviewing recent articles calling for the establishment of an independent workers' party, I keep thinking: Why do we not advocate voting for candidates of socialist parties? Why settle for the lesser of the lesser evils such as Ralph Nader? Why not vote for a group like the Socialist Workers Party (it should be noted I am not a member of that group nor necessarily advocate anything they specifically espouse)?

It just seems to me that socialists would be much more effective as a mobilizing force if they band together.
David Bliven, Jamaica, N.Y.

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